For a while Hill Harper was ‘that guy.’ That cat you thought you knew from high school but realized you just remembered him from some movie like “He Got Game” or “Get on the Bus.” Yea, he used to be that guy, but now as a starring member of CSI: NY, the Harvard Law grad is quickly becoming a household name. And with another season of CSI under his belt and a couple big screen roles on tap for late 2006 (“Constellation” and “The Breed”), he’ll continue to keep his name buzzing.
What’s most notable though is not Hill’s newfound fame but what he’s chosen to do with it. In between filming, he penned an ambitious, motivational book aimed towards young men called Letters to a Young Brother. Told through an exchange of letters between Hill and a fictitious young brother, the book provides positive words and life lessons for young men without role models or mentors in their lives.
“When I was speaking across the country a lot of young men would come up and ask me questions so I started compiling them,” explained Hill discussing how the book came about. “Many were of a similar theme so I decided to write a book to answer the most recurring questions.”
Rather than speak from a soapbox, Letters addresses a number of issues by engaging the reader, encouraging them to answer questions regarding their dreams and goals. “I wanted it to feel more like a brother to brother conversation,” said Hill. “I’m coming from a standpoint where I’m being open and vulnerable and I’m asking them to do the same.
Despite the lack of motivational books on the market aimed at young minorities most publishers fronted on the idea. “They said you’re pitching us a book for a ‘population’ that doesn’t read,” remembers Harper. “I knew what they meant. That’s why I need support from everyone to help right the ship. This isn’t just a book, it’s a movement and it’ll get kicked off if this book is successful.”
The book proceeds will help fund the initial elements of Hill’s MANifest Your Destiny Foundation, which will award scholarships to young men and women and establish an online community with mentor chats and team building games. Several spin offs are also planned with books aimed at young women and first time parents coming soon. It looks like the movement has begun.